Flipping the Switch: The Outlook for Canada’s Electric Utilities

The Conference Board of Canada, September 6, 2017
Recorded Webinar by
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Canada stands out as one of the world’s largest electricity generators and as a leader in clean electricity generation. But to get to this position, Canadian electric utilities have undergone a dramatic transformation over the past decade.

Join Carlos A. Murillo for a discussion of the changes underway for Canada’s electrical utilities and a five-year outlook on the industry. This webinar is based on the newly released Canadian Industrial Outlook for Canada’s Electric Utilities Industry, published in the Summer of 2017, and includes five-year forecasts for the industry’s output, employment, prices, investment levels, trade, and financial performance metrics, among others.

Non-hydroelectric renewable sources have been increasingly adopted and generation from fossil fuels are in decline across Canada. Investment by electric utilities has increased by 75 per cent in the past decade, but Canada still need significant levels of investment to build a more modern and cleaner generation fleet. Higher prices are in turn needed to support increasing investment requirements and to help offset the rapid cost increases that have been prevalent across the industry.

Industry revenues are expected to increase at about half the pace registered in the past half-decade. Much of that revenue growth is fuelled by higher electricity costs for users, although prices vary by province. To limit price increases, Canada’s electric utilities will need to work hard to limit cost growth between 2017 and 2021.

The role of trade in electricity generation is growing. Although close to 90 percent of electricity generated in Canada is used domestically, net exports to the U.S. doubled between 2007 and 2016, while interprovincial flows remained relatively steady.

Webinar Highlights

In addition to the forecast data, Carlos will discuss some of the key trends that are driving the outlook for electrical utilities:

  • Electricity demand – After two years of lackluster performance, Canada’s economic growth is expected to improve considerably this year and next, in turn supporting higher demand for electricity. Demand gains are expected to continue to be driven by non-residential end-users.
  • Price Increases – Changes in electricity prices have diverged widely in Canada, from three consecutive years of declining prices in Alberta to a 10 per cent increase in Ontario again last year. Prices will continue to rise across Canada, but are expected to moderate compared to previous years.
  • Clean Energy and Regional Complexity – Overall, Canada is a global leader in clean electricity generation. But below the surface, there are clear differences across Canada`s regional electricity markets.

About Carlos

Carlos MurilloAs an Economist with the Industry Sector Economics group in the Forecast & Analysis division, Carlos A. Murillo oversees the analysis of various industries, with a focus on the energy sector. Carlos has over seven years of experience working on energy economics, natural resources, fiscal policy, and international trade issues, amongst others. He holds an MSc in Sustainable Energy Development and a BA with a double major in Economics and International Relations (with a concentration in Applied Energy Economics), both from the University of Calgary.

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